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Julia Gillian (and the Art of Knowing)

Alison McGhee, Author, Drazen Kozjan, Illustrator , illus. by Drazen Kozjan. Scholastic $15.99 (280p) ISBN 978-0-545-03348-0

McGhee's (Someday ) utterly likable title character, nine-year-old Julia Gillian, is good at a number of things: making papier-mâché masks with her own special recipe for flour and water paste, and knowing what her aging St. Bernard, Bigfoot, is trying to say. She has also mastered “the Art of Knowing,” the ability to predict the daily routines of those around her. But during her summer break, her teacher parents are busy studying, and are unable to participate in the usual family visits to the water park or dinners at the Quang Restaurant. Ever resourceful, Julia Gillian walks around their Minneapolis neighborhood with Bigfoot, trying to add to her list of accomplishments as she interacts with neighbors and storekeepers. However, “it seemed to be getting harder to master the things she wanted to master. Was this, too, something that happened when you got older?'” And then there is the matter of “the green book” that her parents want her to finish reading. Her Art of Knowing has made Julia Gillian think that the book, about a dog just one year older than Bigfoot, might end unhappily, and the thought of finishing it scares her. Although at times her voice reads a little young, Julia Gillian's fears and their ultimate resolution are very relatable. The book is well paced, laced with line drawings that capture Julia Gillian's slightly whimsical personality, and overall as satisfying as the strawberry bubble tea served at the Quang Restaurant. Ages 9–12. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/23/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
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